In dozens of states resistance movement grows against shifting burden of deficit crisis onto public sector workers


Story Transcript

Across the United States, many state lawmakers continue to push for legislation that they
say is urgently required to tackle soaring deficits.

Many bills are calling for cuts in state spending across such areas as education,
healthcare, social services, and public employee benefits which supporters assert are
necessary in order to balance their states†budgets.

However, an increasingly vocal number of people are claiming that such measures
disproportionately place the burden on working families rather than targeting high-
income earners.

Others take issue with what they see as an attack against workerâ€s rights with legislation
seeking to curb union power and in some cases like the state of Wisconsin, effectively
eliminate collective bargaining rights for most state employees.

On Friday March 18th, Dane County, Wisconsin judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary
restraining order blocking governor Scott Walkerâ€s anti-collective bargaining measure
from coming into effect citing that Republican senators had violated the stateâ€s open
meeting laws.

Opponents of Walkerâ€s legislation continue to hold demonstrations while discussions
and planning continue over the potential for calling a general strike and a pushing for a
movement to recall 6 republican senators who backed the bill.

Over the past week a number of other states joined the ranks of those to have introduced
legislation aimed at rolling back or eliminating collective bargaining rights including
Alaska, Nevada, California, and several others bringing the total to more than a dozen
states.

Some states are plowing through anti-collective bargaining legislation like in Iowa,
Florida, and Ohio, which witnessed protests this week against controversial Senate Bill 5
which has cleared part of the Ohio sate legislature and is on track to be signed into law.

But not all states are directly confronting collective bargaining with targeted legislation,
others are seeking to restrict unions through provisions included in budget cut legislation
as in the cases of New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Opposition strategies seeking to challenge various legislative proposals have manifested

This week Indiana House democrats remained out of the state in neighboring Illinois in
what has become one of the longest walkouts in national history in order to prevent the
passage of legislation attacking unions and education spending.

High school and university students constitute an increasingly critical base of resistance
against legislation aimed at cutting education funding and weakening the labor rights
of teachers. On Monday March 25th, thousands of students mobilized in Nevada to
demonstrate against planned cuts in education spending.

Calls for alternative sources of funding to alleviate state deficits are becoming more
pronounced in the national debate over budget cuts and state spending. In Connecticut, a
coalition of community groups and union activists are calling on the governor to increase
taxes for the wealthiest state residents. While such calls to “tax the rich” are increasingly
common, such measures as the estate tax remain largely unpopular amongst a significant
segment of the population.

With many state budget deadlines approaching and a number of state legislators at a
political impasse, popular pressure continues to mount as the battle over who is going to
pay for the deficit crisis intensifies.

Report by David Dougherty
The Real News